Matt O’Flynn, managing director at upholstered furniture manufacturer Collins and Hayes and chairman at the British Furniture Manufacturers Association responds to comments made by Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd took to the airways on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme this week to discuss the proposed immigration measures revealed in her conference party speech. These include making companies publish the number of international staff members within their employ.
On the radio broadcast Rudd referred to a factory within her constituency which she had visited and which, she said “recruit almost exclusively from Romania and Poland, where there are people that have had experience in factories building these sofas… they didn’t even consider training locally.”
Today, Matt O’Flynn, managing director at upholstered furniture manufacturer Collins and Hayes and chairman at the British Furniture Manufacturers Association has taken to a number of media outlets, including BBC News, the Telegraph and Cabinet Maker magazine, to state that he believes it was his company to which Rudd referred and to have his say.
In a statement to Cabinet Maker, O’Flynn said: “Collins & Hayes is 75% British nationals. The first thing is that the story was inaccurate. Secondly, I think its important to say that she didn’t mention our company by name. She had been to our company so it is a fair assumption to put two and two together.
“We employ 75% of British employees, but the other thing is when she moved to offices in their current location, which is just across from our factory, we invited her to introduce her to her neighbours. We had been spending a lot of time, effort and money on restructuring the business and investing in the infrastructure and we wanted to show her what her neighbours did.
“Whilst she was there we discussed the difficulty of getting hold of locally available talent, particularly in the sewing machinists, and she was photographed sitting on one of the sewing machinist’s chairs to be able to use as leverage for the local area in trying to find more staff. The whole thing has gone in completely the opposite direction to the date.
Regarding the other 25%, “there is a reasonable spread of quite a lot of different nations. I don’t feel it is important to name a list of countries as I don’t want to get embroiled in Amber Rudd’s rhetoric.
“What’s more important for me is that fact she is not talking about the fact we make a career in manufacturing a desirable one, and really we should be grateful and thankful for those people who do it.
“Trying to keep this positive because at the end of the day we have some wonderful employees, doesn’t matter where they come from, they are all citizens of the local area and they are all humans with families, and we have to look after them.”